Gov. Mark Schweiker proclaimed March 17-23 as Emergency Services Week in Pennsylvania, encouraging all Pennsylvanians to recognize volunteer emergency workers and to volunteer their time to emergency-service organizations.
"Emergency Services Week gives us the opportunity to renew our efforts to recognize our emergency-service providers who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities," says Schweiker. "Our citizens and local governments need to join us in volunteering our time, and providing the financial support these fine men and women need to provide these essential public safety services."
Emergency Services Week first was declared in 1997 to recognize Pennsylvania's emergency providers; to call attention to the recruitment of new volunteers; and to promote fire and injury safety.
"Given the events of Sept. 11, our front-line responders are even more essential," Schweiker adds. "We all should consider volunteering some time to these valued organizations, whether assisting with fund raising, bookkeeping, and fire- and injury-prevention education, or just reaching out to the public."
In his 2002-03 budget, Gov. Schweiker has proposed nearly $2 million for the formation and training of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) that he called for last November.
"Our local preparedness efforts start with CERTs, which will act to support our first line of defense and response in time of crisis and will be a valuable resource at all times," says Schweiker. "We'll work to step up training of ordinary citizens in basic rescue and emergency tactics. We'll give communities that live in the shadow of potential terrorist targets, such as nuclear power plants and airports, extra resources. And we'll help counties conduct more frequent drills, to put preparedness into practice."
According to a study by the Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute, more than 75 percent of the time a volunteer fire and emergency- service provider spends at the fire hall is on fundraising. Statewide, the number of volunteer firefighters has declined over the last 15 years.
edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])